Everything You Wanted to Know About The Barndominium Design

Everything You Wanted to Know About The Barndominium Design

Decoration and Design
Interior Design
By Mateos Glen Hayes August 16, 2022

Barndominiums have taken the US housing market by storm. Their new unique design presents a lot of intriguing benefits and features that aren’t found in other home designs. As such, the barndominium is not only unique in its unusual appearance but is further set apart by its functionality.

In the early days of America, there were once many who lived in the countryside and whose homes were merely extensions of their farms. These homesteads often looked quite similar to the barns they stood next to, providing sturdy and functional shelter for generations of farmers.

Now as the cities get louder and more congested, more and more weary city slickers are trying to recapture the charm and bliss of that life, minus the manual labor of course. This is where the barndominium comes in, offering a perfect balance of ranch charm and modern convenience. 

What Is Barndominium Design? 

Barndominiums offer a very unique design alongside a compelling set of benefits.

Barndominiums offer a very unique design alongside a compelling set of benefits.

Put simply, a barndominium design is a home that has been designed to look like a large barn. The word itself is a combination of the ‘barn’ and ‘condominium’, providing us with another hint of its intended purpose. While this might initially seem a strange choice for a home design, it comes with a lot of compelling features that make it worth considering for your future home. 

Origins

The Low German House represents the Medieval genesis of the Barndominium design (Ile-de-re/Wikimedia Commons).

The Low German House represents the Medieval genesis of the Barndominium design (Ile-de-re/Wikimedia Commons).

A ranch-style home is of course nothing new as far as home design goes and it wasn’t a concept that started in America. In fact, we can trace the concept of a barn home all the way back to medieval times.

Historical Roots

The very first barn homes were called Fachhallenhaus and were a type of timber-framed barn-style abode common to parts of Germany and The Netherlands. Much like barndominiums, these homes were designed to combine everything - meaning living space for both people and animals - under one roof and had lots of interior space as a result. Also known as Low German House, such homes are still quite common in rural north Germany. 

Modern Rebirth

The barndominium is a much younger concept by comparison. The design got its start as a modern revival of the idea of a medieval barn-style house. Karl Nilsen, a prominent real estate developer of the time, was the first to design planned communities with barndominium designs. The intention was to create homes that could house both people and stables, an especially attractive configuration for horse riders. Although Nilsen’s project was not especially successful, the basic principle of a large barn-like house eventually took hold.    

Key Features of Barndominium Design 

Modern Barndominiums are mostly designed for people, and can have some pretty spacious designs.

Modern Barndominiums are mostly designed for people, and can have some pretty spacious designs.

Today’s barndominiums have largely abandoned the principle of housing both animals and people in one structure. Although some barndominiums have retained this more traditional design, most are devoted entirely to living space for people, allowing for a lot of extra square footage. 

Spaciousness 

Naturally, this means that spaciousness is one of the main qualities of a barndominium design. There is just so much extra horizontal and vertical space to work with, and that gives you a lot of flexibility for designing layouts. Plus, renovations and changes are made all the easier since there is nothing to cramp your style. This means that your barndominium home interior can be hugely adaptive, changing with time to suit your evolving needs and tastes. 

Energy Efficiency

The large interior of barndominium homes also allows for much larger windows than you can get on the average home. This means more natural light but it also means more naturally produced heat from the sun. Combine this with thermally conductive concrete floors and you can use passive solar heating during the winter to keep energy bills low. Barndominiums are often constructed with sheet metal and metal beams, making it a lot easier to insulate them since they are less porous than wooden framed homes. 

Durability 

It also goes without saying that a home built with a steel frame and sheet metal is going to be pretty tough. Barndominiums are renowned for their longevity and their ability to stand up to extreme weather. Whereas wood is vulnerable to temperature changes and moisture, steel is by comparison far less vulnerable to the elements and can endure a lot more punishment. Some barndominiums can even stand up to tornadoes. Plus, a metal house is a lot harder to set on fire. 

Key Interior Elements 

The Barndominium is naturally well suited to a ranch-style design.

The Barndominium is naturally well suited to a ranch-style design.

These are just a selection of the common design elements found in many barndominium interiors. These aren’t universal, but these design elements are naturally at home in the barndominium design due to the sheer amount of square footage the layout affords. 

Open Concept 

This one’s a no-brainer. The Barndominium is a natural place for an open space concept layout to flourish unconstricted by any pesky space limitations. Plus, since the design is adaptable, you have more room to change things and shake things up if the layout you have just isn’t working for your needs.

Because the barndominium design has good thermal efficiency, this eliminates another one of the common downsides of most open concept homes, namely that they are more wasteful energy-wise. The benefits of such a versatile setup cannot be understated. A barndominium with an open concept layout will be a hit whether you’re hosting large parties or just hanging out with your family.

The open concept layout is well suited to the Barndominiums' generous interior square footage.

The open concept layout is well suited to the Barndominiums' generous interior square footage.

Modern Style 

Barndominiums don’t just look modern and sleek on the outside but carry this over to the inside as well. Those steel beams and wide open windows are the perfect aesthetic pieces to accentuate a modern interior. You don’t always have to go with something minimalist in a modern interior design but it can work wonders with a barndominium.

Because there is so much room to play with, a design with smooth clean lines is really going to stand out in a good way. This will set the tone for the house design to boost your well-being by keeping things serene. After all, an idyllic house on the prairie should embody those qualities. 

Industrial and Rustic Accenting

This doesn’t mean a barndominium is devoid of character or cannot be given some personal touches. Quite the opposite is true in this case. Since your barndominium will likely be in a local area, it only makes sense to incorporate some tasteful modern rustic or industrial accenting into the design. And yet again the barndominium is quite perfect for this role.

Exposed steel beams and wooden timber supports make excellent elements in an industrial-style home. An industrial-style barndominium can be further complemented with exposed metal plumbing and exposed lighting fixtures. Because the structure of a barndominium is totally independent of the interior dividing walls, you don’t have to worry about compromising structural integrity and are freer to add these elements to your barndominium home interior.  

Kit vs. Custom Barndominium: Which is Better?

Barndominium kits are more affordable and take out a lot of the guesswork in the design process.

Barndominium kits are more affordable and take out a lot of the guesswork in the design process.

One of the biggest questions with barndominiums has been floating around the internet for quite some time. Namely, should you build your own barndominium from scratch or buy a kit instead? Let’s explore the two options so you can better decide which one would suit your needs. 

Barndominium Kits

This is the cheaper option by a mile. The minimum price for a barndominium kit is typically around $50,000, although this price may not include assembly. Because what you are purchasing is basically a prefabricated home, all the design work has been done for you, eliminating one of the more difficult steps of homebuilding. This makes things far easier and reduces stress since there is much less guesswork involved, and some companies may even help you with assembly making things easier still. Although they are premade, kits can also be customized so that you get something that is closest to what you want.

The barndominium’s unique structure allows for construction to be completed in record time.

The barndominium’s unique structure allows for construction to be completed in record time.

Building Your Own 

When you build something on your own you have a lot more control over the entire process from start to finish. Building your own barndominium means coordinating with a contractor who is checking in with you every step of the way, allowing you far more ability to customize your home.

Plus, because a barndominium can be built a lot faster than a conventional home, you will be able to see your vision take shape in no time at all. Once the design process is complete, you could see your barndominium go up in a matter of weeks. The downside of building your own barndominium is of course cost. A basic barndominium starts at $180,000 but can be as much as $360,000. That’s a steep price, but it’s well worth it if your dream is a beautiful home in the countryside.

MG

Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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